`Power tariff hike will cripple agriculture sector'

Udupi May 9. The MLC and the Vice-President of BJP State unit, V.S. Acharya, said on Thursday that the 16.2 per cent increase in power tariff permitted by the KERC, amounted to rubbing salt into a festering wound, with consumers already inconvenienced by low voltage and unannounced power cuts.

Addressing presspersons here, Dr. Acharya said this increase would cripple the agriculture and the industrial sectors. To protest against this "unjustified hike" and bring the matter to the notice of the Government, the State BJP had called for a voluntary Statewide "bandh" from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Though the 16.2 per cent hike appeared to be modest, in reality, the hike would be in the range of 45 per cent to 200 per cent, which would have to be paid by the 88 lakh consumers out of the 1.8 crore KPTCL consumers, who came from the middle and poor classes. In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, the weaker sections were being provided free power. But in Karnataka, the Krishna government, which first charged an amount of Rs. 10 a month from the beneficiaries of the Bhagya Jyoti and Kutir Jyoti, had now hiked it to Rs. 30 a month.

So far, 65 lakh consumers were being provided 200 units of power for domestic lighting at 30 per cent subsidy at Rs. 1.25 per unit. They were paying Rs. 362 for first 200 units. Now they had been equated with the AEH consumers, with the result that they would have to pay Rs. 3.25 per unit for the second 100 units. The small-scale industries (low-tension users) would have to pay Rs. 50 per kW as demand charge.

For agricultural pumpsets, a tariff of Rs. 240 per horsepower (hp) and 40 paise per unit of power had been imposed. But till the farmer got a meter connection, he would have to have pay Rs. 720 per horsepower. Farmers without meter connection, getting power supply from urban feeders, had to pay Rs. 1,200 per hp.

Farmers, with more than three pumpsets, owning vehicles and who were income-tax assessees, had to pay Rs. 480 per hp and Re. one per unit of power.

If these farmers did not have meter connection, they would have to pay Rs. 1,500 per hp. It was better for these farmers to use diesel pumpsets than electric pumpsets, he said.

The KPTCL had not reduced the T&D losses nor had it collected the remaining amount of Rs. 1,250 crore. Had the Chief Minister not withdrawn Rs. 907 crore in subsidies from the agricultural sector, announced during his budget speech, the farmers would not have been put to trouble.

Other states produced 30 per cent hydel power and 70 per cent thermal power. Karnataka produced 70 per cent hydel and 30 per cent thermal power, but the State Government had failed to pass on the benefit of the cheaper hydel power to the consumers, Dr. Acharya said. The BJP leaders, Udaykumar Shetty, Raghupati Bhat and A.G. Kodgi, were present.

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